Have you ever taken a moment to realize just how many adaptations there are now? Of the top 25 highest grossing films of 2017 the only non-adaptive work that was in live action was Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. So why is this trend of adaptations so prevalent even if it spurs a lot of general dissatisfaction from most movie-goers?
Primarily, it is due to the logistics of making a big budget film in 2017 and onward. It seems that few directors are being trusted by studios with an original piece. This is primarily due to the necessity to not lose money on a budgets upwards of $100 million. Thusly, an adaptation makes the most logical sense. If you were to create an adaptation — you’ve essentially started with free advertising. Even if you’re adapting material few people have an impression on, like Ant-Man say. People have heard of the character and thus part of the goal of advertising your film is already met at the creation stage.
On that note, you bring fans — who, even if they do not believe in the film are likely to see it in order to confirm their suspicions. This creates a problem as far as what we want as consumers and the industry of movie-making. There are a very limited amount of directors who are able to craft stories worth telling that are equally mass-consumable. These directors include the likes of Nolan as previously mentioned. However, a few other directors you’ll know from their creative freedom are Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg. Some of these directors, Wes Anderson and James Cameron have walked the line between original films and adaptations, but the point stands.
With that point in mind, what can be done to change this onslaught of adaptations? Not much, as it turns out. The best thing you can do as a movie-goer is to take more chances on a film that you’re interested in that has no source material, such as Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut. When films like these are made more popular that is when Hollywood will feel like they are capable of taking chances on films.
Despite the previously listed directors who do make hit movies, why doesn’t Hollywood already feel they can create original works? The answer lies in a favourite director of mine, Edgar Wright. Wright’s most recent film is Baby Driver, a universally praised film that seeps style and technique into every second they have. The film is Wright’s first that has earned more than $100 million which is simply not enough for Hollywood to care about as the industry has developed. Movies like Fast and the Furious which will be headed to a ninth film soon make over $1 billion worldwide and with Wright’s films making just a tenth of that — he won’t be receiving a massive budget anytime soon.
With all this being said, adaptations are not something that must be feared or the bane of movie going experiences everywhere. Every story has a source, even classical masterpieces like Schindler’s List, Casablanca, and Citizen Kane have sources for their stories —this is not a new idea in filmmaking. Dunkirk which was touted as the only original live action work is set in the very real backdrop of a major battle in World War II. As such, how original can we say it is?
Even Wright has made an adaptations — one of his most famous films Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is an adaptation of a comic book.
It’s important to remember that not all adapted films are bad or lazy. A lot of love can be born simply because an author or director has had a story stick with them for years. It’s okay to enjoy adaptations and it’s smart to remember that good filmmaking and adaptations are not linked as concepts.